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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Origins Available: English, Scottish

Where did the Scottish Johnstone family come from? What is the Scottish Johnstone family crest and coat of arms? When did the Johnstone family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Johnstone family history?

The ancestors of the first family to use the name Johnstone were thought to have lived among the Boernician tribe of ancient Scotland. They lived in any of several place names in Scotland. Most instances of the name are thought to come from the barony of John's Town in Annandale, Dumfriesshire. The place name comes from the personal name John, and the Middle English tone or toun, meaning "a town." Other places so named in Scotland include St. John's Toun (now the city of Perth).

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Before the printing press and the first dictionaries appeared, names and other words were often spelled differently every time they were written. Johnstone has appeared under the variations Jonsoom, Jonstoombe, Johnson, Johnstome, Jonstoom, Jonstoomb, Johnstolm, Jonsome, Johnstume, Jonstolm, Jonsolm, Jonstum, Jonstome, Jonsom, Jonsum, Jonstume, Jonsomb, Jonsombe, Jonsoombe, Jonsoomb and many more.

First found in Dumfries (now part of the region of Galloway) where they held the barony of John's Town. There is a heraldic similarity with the Kirkpatrick family coat of arms, leading to the belief that John was a descendant of Gospatrick, Earl of Northumberland. Gilbert, son of John received a parcel of land in southern Annandale from William Bruce, Lord of Annandale, some time between 1195 and 1214.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Johnstone research. Another 477 words(34 lines of text) covering the years 1296, 1611, 1663, 1625, 1672, 1664, 1721, 1701, 1602, 1653, 1687, 1730, 1697, 1772, 1743, 1754, 1711, 1700 and are included under the topic Early Johnstone History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 185 words(13 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Johnstone Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Johnstone family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 133 words(10 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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The Scots who crossed the Atlantic were often on the run from poverty as well as persecution. They brought little with them, and often had nothing of their home country to hand down to their children. In the 20th century, Clan societies and other patriotic Scottish organizations have helped the ancestors of Boernician Scots to recover their lost national legacy. Many of those families went on to make significant contributions to the rapidly developing colonies in which they settled. Early North American records indicate many people bearing the name Johnstone were among those contributors:

Johnstone Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • Dr. John Johnstone (died 1732), who arrived in New Jersey in 1685 aboard the Henry and Francis, he was granted 500 acres in 1686 and later another 30,000 acres in 1701, he later became Mayor of New York City (1714-1719)

Johnstone Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • Lewis Johnstone, who arrived in Savanna(h), Georgia in 1770
  • David E Johnstone, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1770

Johnstone Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • Jane Johnstone, who landed in New York, NY in 1843
  • James Johnstone, who landed in New York in 1849
  • W S Johnstone, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850
  • Alexander Johnstone, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1850
  • Helen Walker Johnstone, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1855


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  • Sergeant Harold Irving Johnstone (1892-1949), American Army soldier who received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the World War I
  • John William Johnstone Jr. (b. 1945), American former Major League Baseball player who played from 1966 to 1985
  • John William Johnstone (b. 1968), American Major League Baseball pitcher who played from 1993 to 2000
  • Ralph Greenley Johnstone (1880-1910), first American pilot to die in an airplane crash
  • Jimmy Johnstone (b. 1944), Scottish soccer player
  • Alex Johnstone (b. 1961), Scottish politician, Member of the Scottish Parliament for North East Scotland (1999-)
  • Robert "Bobby" Johnstone (1929-2001), Scottish association football player
  • Davey Johnstone (b. 1951), Scottish rock guitarist and vocalist, best known for his work with Elton John
  • Derek Joseph Johnstone (b. 1953), former Scottish association footballer
  • Eve C. Johnstone (b. 1944), Scottish neuroscientist, recipient of the Lieber Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Schizophrenia Research (2007)

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The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Nunquam non paratus
Motto Translation: Never unprepared

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Johnstone Clan Badge
Johnstone Clan Badge

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A clan is a social group made up of a number of distinct branch-families that actually descended from, or accepted themselves as descendants of, a common ancestor. The word clan means simply children. The idea of the clan as a community is necessarily based around this idea of heredity and is most often ruled according to a patriarchal structure. For instance, the clan chief represented the hereditary "parent" of the entire clan. The most prominent example of this form of society is the Scottish Clan system...

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  1. Black, George F. The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3).
  2. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  3. Urquhart, Blair Edition. Tartans The New Compact Study Guide and Identifier. Secauccus, NJ: Chartwell Books, 1994. Print. (ISBN 0-7858-0050-6).
  4. Martine, Roddy, Roderick Martine and Don Pottinger. Scottish Clan and Family Names Their Arms, Origins and Tartans. Edinburgh: Mainstream, 1992. Print.
  5. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  6. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  7. Innes, Thomas and Learney. Scots Heraldry A Practical Handbook on the Historical Principles and Mordern Application of the Art and Science. London: Oliver and Boyd, 1934. Print.
  8. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry Including American Families with British Ancestry 2 Volumes. London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  9. Bain, Robert. The Clans and Tartans of Scotland. Glasgow & London: Collins, 1968. Print. (ISBN 000411117-6).
  10. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  11. ...

The Johnstone Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Johnstone Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 26 January 2014 at 22:30.

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